ATLANTA -- Taxpayers are expected to pack a meeting of the Fulton County Board of Assessors Thursday. They'll be appealing new property tax evaluations that have jumped 60 percent or more.
Property tax reappraisals are a fact of life throughout metro Atlanta, required annually statewide from a law passed in 2010. When property values rise, the taxes eventually catch up. It can be jarring.
"When we opened it, it was shocking," said Jennie Etheridge of Buckhead, speaking of the envelope her family got in the US mail from Fulton County. It revealed a county tax assessment that showed an increase of more than 60 percent.
"We immediately thought about the immediate hit to our family," Etheridge said, "which out of pocket is going to be another seven thousand dollars annually."
She intends to appeal. When she does, she'll end up in front of Dillon Fries. He's the chairman of Fulton County's Board of Assessors.
Mass property tax values are mostly calculated by computer. Fries says an appeal puts a human assessor at the doorstep of the appellant.
"We don't want to be argumentative. We want to be objective," Fries said.
Fries says Fulton County has become much more friendly to assessment challenges in the last five years. Before he became the board's chairman, Fries says he used to file such appeals on behalf of property owners.
"I do feel that that has changed, and people are getting a fair shake," Fries said.
Jenny Etheridge says many of her Buckhead neighbors saw identical jumps in their property taxes. She expects them all to appeal.
"All of our neighbors are in this predicament and trying to figure out what's going on," she said.
Fulton County homeowners can start the appeal by going to Fulton county's web site. In it, you'll explain why your taxes are out of whack with surrounding properties. If the county agrees, Fries says there are no recriminations -- and that by law, the new evaluation remains frozen for the following three years.